Originally created 02/25/97

Higher telephone bills expected this summer



Augusta telephone customers can expect higher phone bills starting this summer.

And it won't be the phone company's fault.

An Augusta Commission committee Monday voted to raise the 911 emergency telephone tax from $1.15 a month per phone line to $1.50, effective this summer.

The $4.20-a-year increase is needed to make up for a deficit in the 911 fund caused by higher-than-expected costs of building a 911 center and paying additional call takers, officials said.

The 911 center on Taylor Street, across from the joint law enforcement center on Walton Way, was projected to cost $500,000 but ended up costing more than $1 million, officials said.

The increase, to go into effect between 90 and 120 days after approval by the full commission, would bring about $380,000 more to the government this year, said Comptroller Butch McKie .

Finance committee member Freddie Handy voted against the increase.

In an unrelated issue Monday, the commission's engineering services committee rejected the advice of Randy Oliver, its administrator, to ban parking on Seventh Street between Reynolds Street and Port Royal.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham withdrew his second to the motion to approve the ban after Jimmy Davison, owner of Davison's Auto Service on Reynolds Street, argued that the parking ban would be detrimental to his and the Town Tavern's business.

Port Royal residents have complained about vehicles from Mr. Davison's business parked along the street and in the parking facility, where they contend they have leaked oil and gasoline.

"Why are you going to block this street?" asked Mr. Davison, who said he thought everyone wanted businesses downtown. "Town Tavern has been spending all that money all year on renovating, and now}

you're not going to give him a single parking place in front of his business."

, effective this summer.

The $4.20 a year increase is needed to make up for a deficit in the 911 fund caused by higher-than-expected costs of building a 911 center and paying additional call takers, officials said.

The 911 center on Taylor Street, across from the joint law enforcement center on Walton Way, was projected to cost $500,000, but ended up costing more than $1 million, officials said.